An Atmospherics of the City: Baudelaire and the Poetics of Noise (Verbal Arts)

An Atmospherics of the City: Baudelaire and the Poetics of Noise
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One can think of them as still lives, portraits not of people, but of things. She was trying for a style akin to the abstract painters of her time—such as Picasso—using words as abstract, words as pigments or thicknesses of paint. While the individual elements of her sentences are familiar, their significance as a whole often escapes us. I made up a list of some of my favorite Stein titles, or, if my students were reading the entire book, I might have them do this.

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I ask students to select at least five titles and write a prose poem, a la Stein, for each of them. They could try to make these prose poems carry a narrative thread, loosely the way Stein did all poems were about food, for instance , or more conventionally, either by having the same character or setting appear in each one. They could also choose to follow the Stein model and link the vignettes only by form, i. Here is an example by student Colin Moon:. A rare spice of life, he guesses.

Something extravagant, he supposes. Something blue, he wishes.

Baudelaire and the Poetics of Noise

Something terrible, it comes without warning, it comes when he showers, it comes with ice cream or just the blues. He knows it. He asks about Marla, she says, would you put pickles on a sundae? He supposes that, no, he would not. A fairy tale: he knows her, she knows him. The first date is based around literature and the second date is based around music.

Shop by category An Atmospherics of the City: Baudelaire and the Poetics of Noise ( Verbal Arts: Studies in Poetics) (): Ross Chambers: Books. An Atmospherics of the City: Baudelaire and the Poetics of Noise. ROSS CHAMBERS. Lazar Fleishman. Haun Saussy. Series: Verbal Arts: Studies in Poetics.

In the evenings its coffee and in the mornings its juice. No direct explanation of which kind, not orange juice, not apple juice. Another student decided to go hunting for different titles. Here is one of them:.

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Harmony by millions. The wail fills the atmosphere. Fear of the end is matched only by fascination with what comes next. All eyes wide and unfocused and all minds shoved roughly to insanity. It is firewood for the furnace of this monstrous instrument, until each body falls exhausted onto the red-golden grass. The Parable. The parable is a story that uses figurative language, most specifically the poetic techniques of personification and symbol. In parables, things exist in mythic time: animals speak to us, forces of nature take human form, objects—the tin drum, the letter, the basket—and places—the cottonwood tree, the city over the hill, the mountain—are invested with meaning beyond their mere objective presence.

One thinks of Yellow Woman and Coyote in the Native American stories of Leslie Marmon Silko, or old European folks tales where the main characters are the north wind, the wolf, the poisoned apple, or the dancing shoes. Parables explain how things originate, why events happen, how people come to be where, and who they are. They are poetic narratives or narrative poetries with one important difference: the story has a lesson to impart, however obscure it might be.

A parable is the story of a magic encounter. The characters in a parable are more than aware that the images they see, smell, taste, hear, or feel have a mythic and invisible life full of meaning behind them. I ask my students to choose an abstraction, a force of nature, an object, or a place mountain, city, country even and write a poem or story in which these forces are personified and symbolized. Because a personification, per se, is the giving of something abstract or nonhuman human characteristics, I ask students to think about what makes someone human:.

The parable could also be an encounter with two or more abstractions. What happens when Coyote, the Trickster meets Death? What about Psyche, the Soul, and Eros? One student had Truth reading Rilke in the original German; one had Spring doing her laundry, and when Death arrived, she displayed her bright red fingernails and fried sausage for breakfast.

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Here are a few examples from Jenn Kemp, a student who took her titles from the abstractions by which the main cards of the Tarot deck are titled:. Amanda leans across the smoky bar, and grabs the ash tray that sits next to the melting ice remains of my vodka-red bulls. Her pink mouth surrounds the tip of a cigarette, she sucks deeply in. As we got ready to go out, I insisted that she borrow my hot pink t-shirt. We smile at each other, like girlfriends do across a crowded bar.

Charles Baudelaire

We smile, we know so much about each other. I want her to own it. I should not be here with you. I hate that pesky voice in my head. I lean against the wall, watching your mouth make the words, not sure of what they are saying. I cannot listen to that rational way deep back in my head voice when you are sitting in front of me.

What are you doing with him? And here of all places? The Letter. Who does not love reading letters?

There is a sense of intimacy in a letter, the sense of eves-dropping on a relationship, the suspense of waiting for something secret and untoward to be revealed. Then, there is the casualness, the sense that the artist has let down his or her guard, letting the mind—not the outline—pace the prose. My barefoot rank is better. The letter demands the techniques of other good writing—vivid description and imagery and thematic construction—but adds direct address, immediacy of time and setting, and the development of the character not only of the addressee but of the writer, who becomes a character in him or herself.

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The letters are a mapping of what Rilke discovered about art during his progressive trips to see the paintings, as well as a day to day accounting of how his perceptions are heightened and changed through this experience:. Since then they are lying in my Book of Images, penetrating it with their strong and serious smell, which is really just the fragrance of autumn earth. Students are asked to write three letters in a sequence.

I ask them to keep the style of the author consistent, even if they are writing as a persona, to make sure the letters are sequential and dated, perhaps even noting place written, to make sure the letters are vivid and use sensory detail, that they name a specific addressee in the salutation, and that they imply the presence of the addressee by comments made in the letter itself i. In your last letter, you sent…. That ought to stump all future scholars.

Still determined not to get caught up in you.

Charles Baudelaire - Infogalactic: the planetary knowledge core

I can see similarities between us. I am starting to pick up your poems more often even when other homework sits glowering at me from the dusty corner. Second, they must propose alternatives grounded in locally determined objectives. In other words, Marcuse calls for planners to reimagine themselves as interpreters of urban life rather than as technicians of the city and to reconceive their work in terms of how they might invite others to join them in co-constructing visions of the future rather than in terms of how they can convince leaders to endorse their solutions. This is work for poets and for readers of their work. American poets, in particular, have turned increasingly to cities as settings and subject matter for experimental poetics since the s.

For example, in Paterson and The Maximus Poems , respectively, William Carlos Williams and Charles Olson endeavor to expose the deep roots of unfolding urban crises by arraying archival research in modernist and postmodernist poetic forms. Similarly, George Oppen and Allen Ginsberg assert anti-capitalist critiques of the city by integrating personal experience with political philosophy and spiritual practice in order to identify the causes of urban suffering.

Other city poets propose community-based political action.